Daily Devotion for October 24, 2009
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Gospel of Matthew 14:13-21
Five Loaves and Two Fishes
When Jesus heard of John the Baptist's death, he withdrew from Galilee in a boat, to a place apart, in the desert. But the multitudes followed him on foot from the cities. When he came out and saw so many people, he had compassion on them, and healed their sick.
When evening began to fall, the disciples came to him, saying, "This place is a desert, and the hour for supper is already past. Send the multitudes away so that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food."
But Jesus told them, "They do not need to go away; give them food to eat."
They replied, "We only have five loaves and two fishes."
And he said, "Bring them here to me."
And he commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass; and he took the five loaves, and the two fishes. Looking up to heaven, he blessed them. Then he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the multitudes. And they all ate, and were filled. They gathered up all that remained of the broken pieces, which filled twelve baskets.
Those who ate were about five thousand men, as well as women and children.
Personal Comment on the Scripture
When I was a child, I always puzzled over this story, which every child in Sunday School hears. I suspect a lot of other people had the same thoughts. I tried to envision a loaf — I think I had in my mind a fat unsliced loaf of Italian bread — being torn into pieces and eaten, while a giant pile of crumbs grew under whoever was eating it, mixed in with flakes of fish. I couldn't quite get my mind around it.
And I never did quite figure it out, how it would have looked. What I did do, was to figure out how unimportant it was to my core beliefs. Christians disagree about a lot of secondary issues, and you could find as many opinions about this wonderful Bible story as there are people who read it. Many people would insist vehemently that it happened literally and exactly as Matthew recounted it — and they might be right. At the opposite end of the spectrum, some would say it didn't happen at all, but is an allegory of some sort. And there are no doubt all kinds of diverse opinions in between.
What is important to me is not how we drive ourselves away from each other with our prideful opinions, but how united we are by the main point of the story. Our "daily bread" is a gift from God. Modern science has made great strides in explaining the "how" of existence, down to tracking the sub-atomic particles in the sun and how they react to create the light that is turned into sugars and starches by wheat and corn; and modern science has taught us to increase crop production and food distribution, to the great benefit of humanity.
But, ultimately, our Promethean pride is delusional. What man can make the sun shine? Birds and bears eat without our assistance (and actually, we seem to be more likely to destroy wildlife than to help it); and our food is no less a gift from God than theirs. To me, the point of today's scripture is that Christ was God and had the power to give God's gift — the fundamental gift of food.